Sunday, May 21, 2006

Pulling Pork Brings Me to a Better Place

One of my fondest memories as a child, was when my parents would pack me sack lunches to bring to school. Opening up the plastic, Disney-themed lunch box and pouring the juice from my mini-thermos into the twist-on lid cup was enthralling, because it made me feel like an adult. Although my mother and father always provided me with their homemade sandwiches (and never the envied Lunchables that the "cool kids" got), I always enjoyed my sandwiches. I loved copying those classmates and peers who would stuff their lofty sandwiches with side-snacks, like potato chips and cheese crackers. Their sandwiches would be awe-inspiring, because they would have "double the filling" and they were "Dagwood-style." (You know, those ten-feet high sandwiches that are slathered with overflowing spoonfuls mayonnaise and mustard, and layered with zigzag cut petals of dill pickles, perfect squares of American cheese, and deli-thin sliced cold cuts?)

Through the years, somehow sack lunches lost their appeal and childhood mystique. Now, I find the flat, tasteless white bread sandwiches bland and uninteresting. As a full-grown adult, I now delight in another "all-in-one" sandwich, a sandwich akin to those child-assembled lunch sandwiches: the sloppy yet delicious pulled pork sandwich. Luckily, I had occasion to further reminisce this week, when my beau and I made large quantities of pulled pork sandwiches for a weekly study group gathering.

As a kid, I found sloppy joe or chipped barbequed beef sandwiches abhorrent. The spiced tomato sauce would always end up on my best school clothes, and I'd inevitably get a stern lecturing from my parents. Although pulled pork sandwiches are a close cousin to the sloppy joe or chipped barbeque sandwich, there is something "refined" about them that reminds me that I am an adult, but that simultaneously brings forth images of my favorite childhood summers. Maybe the adult feeling stems from the fact that there is cabbage inside the sandwich. Unlike potato salad, coleslaw always has always been a non-kid friendly picnic side dish.

I think what makes me feel most like a kid again, is the preparation of pulled pork sandwiches. When I tear apart the barbequed pork meat into wispy tendrils with my two forks, I am taken back to the playground sandbox, because I feel like a beeping yellow construction bulldozer shoveling and moving piles of shredded meat across the surface of the pork roast.

Furthermore, I find assembling the colorful shreds of carrots and red cabbage similar to my responsibilities in my childhood art class. To me, the final image of coleslaw is a colorful picture worthy being posted on the refrigerator with the kitchen magnets.

And don't you dare forget the two essential sides for pulled pork: creamy mashed potatoes (which you can playfully sculpt into gravy volcanoes on your plate) and corn-on-the-cob (nature's ultimate finger[s] food).

Thank you for sharing a moment with me that helps me to relive a part of my childhood, but still permits me to relish in my adult tastes.


  1. Hi PE - Just how Big was this study group......looks like enough for quite a few sandwiches! One of my fondest memories is that when we had excursions, I would have thermoses, the first had juice, the second had vienna sausages - my Mom opened the can dumped them into the thermos and put hot water into them to keep them hot..... Thanks for bringing back those memories!

  2. I am getting a lot of joy imagining a lil' Kirk with his big eyes watching his mother prepare the camping meal of Vienna Sausages!

    I have a funny story to tell you about Vienna Sausages. My Mom has this picture of me and my older sister sitting in Santa Claus's lap, and my eyes are red and botchy from crying. My sister is sitting there with the look of, "I'm sooo tired of my baby sister." My Mom later told me that I saw a can of Vienna Sausages in the supermarket, and started throwing a temper tantrum and kept screaming, "I want hot dogs!" (Ironic that other kids threw temper tantrums to get toys and candy, and I threw tantrums to get Vienna Sausages.) Unfortunately, I didn't get those Vienna Sausages, but I did get a memorable picture with Santa Claus!

  3. Well, see, PE: Your parents loved you! No Lunchables, no Vienna sausages... Poor, healthy you. (I wonder if those were really the "cool kids" or if their parents were just lazy, alcoholic, late-for-work types. And that stuff's not economical, either!)

  4. That spread looks so professional and most importantly delicious! You are an accomplished cook PE, I bow to you. Your study group is lucky to have you do this for them! Amazing!

  5. Oh boy....reading your blog is quite dangerous for my ever expanding waistline! Also, wiping up the drool from my keyboard is the pits :)

  6. Great blog, will certainly revisit your blog again.

  7. I agree with you wholeheartedly Cookie Crumb. Lunchables and Vienna Sausages can set you back a pretty penny, and those salt-laden instant meals cost more than a hand-basket full of fresh produce. I don't know why everything prepackaged and chockful of preservatives tasted like heaven--when we were kids, that is. Nowadays, I actually like multigrain bread and fibrous leafy greens. What the heck happened to me?!?

    Thanks Elmo Monster, you are a sweetheart! Talking about being "lucky," I'm lucky to have found your blog! I still can't get over the $4.00 appetizers...

    You are kidding me Rachel, you are gorgeous! I think you have a fabulous metabolism, because when I look at your Mother's Day post (with the Blimpie's subs), you look stunning! When I eat Blimpie's subs, it shows... Unfortunately.

    Thank you for visiting Suanne, I checked out your blog too, and I will return there too!

  8. oh man, i love good pulled pork. there is this place here in NYC called blue smoke. its awsom there.
    i entered a hot dog eating contest last week it's on my blog if you want to see

  9. yo p.e. you are the pulled pork queen!

    enough pulled pork to feed an army, everything perfect cept one thing you used the wrong bread...

    wonder bread!!!

  10. Whoa Gustad! That is quite a contest! I saw the pictures, and the portions were massive! Thanks for the NY recommendation!

    Rick James, you had me for a moment there! Sorry about my mix-up, I'll make sure to use the correct bread next time.

  11. Hey Jone! Sorry I haven't written in a while! Found your pulled pork post -- Daisy May's BBQ in NYC makes a great pulled pork sandwich with a killer marinade. On the other hand, I had a not-so-great pulled pork sandwich at Glory Days in Burke (VA). Aren't they supposed to get better the closer I get to Dixie?

  12. That is totally okay Shane, I understand that you are busy. Wow, lots of NYC recommendations for good pulled pork. So "Blue Smoke" and "Daisy May's Barbeque" are musts, while "Glory Days" is a must-not. Thanks for the recommendations Shane! In San Francisco, the place I like for barbeque is "Big Nate's," the one run by the ex-NBA player for the Golden State Warriors. We'll have to try it together when you come back to the Bay Area!


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